A major influence to instilling an exercise habit for the new year clearly depends on one psychological factor which affects our chances on how we think we will feel during the exercise, and how that compares to the way we actually feel when we get going, and how we feel afterwards.
A new study is out to explore the possibility to increase people’s adherence to a new exercise regime by making their expectations more positive. Although the main intervention was a disappointment, there is an encouraging message in the results: moderate-to-vigorous exercise is likely to be more enjoyable than you think, and simply knowing this will probably help you enjoy exercising.
101 healthy young adults aged between 18 to 45 were recruited and tasked to run for 30 minutes on a treadmill in the lab and to express how they were feeling at several points throughout and afterwards. They were asked to repeat the same amount of exercise for the next seven days, to be monitored via a heart monitor.
Participants were asked on how they might expect themselves to feel before they started the exercises. 1/3 of the participants were manipulated to believing they will feel good and energised during the run and feeling relaxed afterward while another 1/3 of the participants were told that most people find this intensity of exercise negative and unpleasant, causing them to feel tired afterward. The last group of participants do not have their expectations manipulated.
In hope of increasing positivity of participants’ exercise expectations, researchers expect the individuals to show stronger intentions to exercise and have better adherence to the regimen besides being more positive during and after the exercise. The results turned out to be a mixed bag.
The main intervention failed because participants with manipulated positive expectations did not show strong adherence to exercising more throughout the following week.
The researchers said their results suggest that “healthy individuals will likely find a moderate-to-vigorous exercise stimulus to be more pleasant than they expect it to be” and that encouraging exercisers to focus on the positive aspects of the exercise experience will likely “yield an overall more positive affective experience”. Hopefully the mere act of reading this article will help, by raising your expectations for your own new regime!
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Category(s):Health Psychology, Sports Psychology
Source material from British Psychological Society